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Beyond being fashionable, the truth is that advances in research on stem cells show them as the panacea of the future. These cells, capable of giving rise to the different cell types that make up the body, can be extracted directly from the umbilical cord blood at the time of birth and, after being properly preserved, used in the treatment of specific diseases in any of the members of the family.
Cure in sight
Stem cell transplantation is becoming a weapon to combat malignant and degenerative conditions such as leukemias, anemias, lymphomas, red blood cell and platelet abnormalities, immune system disorders, phagocytic disorders, and bone marrow cancer, among others. In some cases they can serve as a primary treatment or as an auxiliary treatment.
Different diseases that are currently treated by bone marrow transplants will be treated in the future with the use of stem cells. This procedure, which is much less expensive and risky, has the following advantages: there is no immunological rejection, since the recipient is the same donor, while in consanguineous relatives the probability of rejection significantly decreases; they are available when needed because they are stored in specialized banks, and their removal is painless.
Towards the future
New results are known every day regarding the techniques used and regarding the treatment of various tissues with stem cells. Among the diseases that can be treated in this way are breast, ovarian, lung and testicular cancer, brain tumors,melanomas, AIDS, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, skin lesions and the cornea, and repair of organs such as the kidney and liver.
The reconstruction of bone tissue is one of the most important findings in the use of stem cells. Scientists have managed to develop cells suitable for these tissues from stem cells from blood and bone marrow. In addition, Spanish researchers are working on the healing of various organs from these primary cells. Although these investigations have sparked an ethical debate, the truth is that they show that the power of stem cells is limitless.